Monthly Archives: November 2016

An Interview with VANT

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Interview by Chazz Cheron

Many have braved the near-torrential rain to come and see London-based indie risers VANT play at Fibbers in York. Before the show, I caught up with frontman Mattie Vant and guitarist Henry Eastham, in a dimly-lit (and empty) strip club above the venue about their recent tour with You Me At Six, their punk influences and what the recent US election result might mean for political music.

The last we heard, your debut was finished and ready to come out in 2017. Any update on that?

Mattie: Yeah, it’s coming out on February 17th. It’s all done, it’s ready to go. Just a case of sharing it with the world now which we’ve been waiting to do for a really long time.

You recently went on tour with You Me At Six. How was that for you?

Henry: Yeah, it was great. It was an amazing opportunity to play to so many kids who were just completely open to us. It was really great and You Me At Six, as a whole, were so good to us on tour and really look after us. Yeah, it was really fun. Great exposure for us.

How does a tour like that, where you’re playing for an audience who might not have heard of you, compare to a tour like this where they’re here to see you specifically?

Mattie: Well, if someone is there to see you, then they’re more willing to enjoy it – they WANT to enjoy it – because they’ve paid money to come and see you so it’s a much easier battle to win. But, I quite like the challenge of ‘the support slot’, purely because when you do win over an audience, it’s rewarding in its own way. But it’s amazing to be able to be able to play our own headline shows and we’re having so much fun. It’s only day four of the tour but it’s been great so far. Yeah, I definitely prefer this.

Most bands tend to find that they find success after their debut has dropped. Whereas with VANT, you have enjoyed a lot of commercial radio success with just a handful of singles and an EP. Did you expect this level of buzz BEFORE your first record?

Mattie: It just depends how you measure success really – I guess. I don’t see it as success. I see it as an amazing gift of support from the BBC, which has been, y’know, amazing and key to us getting to the stage that we’re at now. But success to me is sustainability. Until we guarantee that, we’ve just got to keep our feet on the ground and keep taking it step by step – and enjoying it as well. So yeah, the whole thing has been very surreal but I think we’re just trying to not get ahead of ourselves.

You mentioned the BBC there. You think played a big part in this exposure you’re receiving?

Mattie: Yeah definitely. The best possible exposure you could possibly get is national radio. It’s the biggest platform for new music so I’m sure we wouldn’t be sitting here in a strip club with you now if it wasn’t for the BBC.

Your most recent single, PEACE AND LOVE, was named ‘Hottest Record In The World’ by Annie Mac – the fifth in a row for you. How does that feel – to get that level of support from someone as prolific as Annie?

Mattie: Yeah, it is amazing! Every time we get ‘Hottest Record’ it’s a big achievement. You can’t really launch a record in any better way than that. It’s the thing that most bands hope for before they start making music. And Annie has always championed us, and she continues to do so and I think she’s a great DJ and we’re really glad to have her on board.

A lot of the lyrics that you write are quite political. Is this a massive factor for you when you write songs – the message?

Mattie: Definitely. It’s the whole reason we’re doing this. We’re not doing this just to make money and get laid. We’re trying to change the world in some way or at least make a positive impact and get people talking about important things again. And I think having direct lyricism at the forefront of our music allows us to have conversations like we’re having now. It’s not a topic that people are allowed to shy away from. I’m sure a lot of bands would like to talk about the things that we talk about but, unfortunately, if they don’t write those sorts of lyrics then, a lot of the time, journalists don’t give them the time of day to do so. So that was the one mission statement – let’s talk about the things that need to be talked about. ‘Cause people would rather look at cat videos and watch Kesha so I think it’s kind of important to continue to talk about these things and I think our debut is a full-rounded body of work that’s about the state of humanity in 2017.

With the political aspect of your lyrics and the noisy guitar tones you tend to use, you guys draw a lot of comparison to punk. Do you think this is a fair comparison? Is that an influence on you?

Mattie: I think that’s great. It is massively an influence on me, yeah. Punk music – the whole reason it started was to be against the establishment and to be against the constructs of the corporate world that we live in and that is very much our ethic. We might not necessarily be what is classed as ‘punk rock’ but definitely at least the ethic of it is there with everything that we do. I don’t have any stigma – you can call us whatever the f*ck you want really – but punk is good enough for me.

With the recent Brexit decision here and the election of Donald Trump as president in the States, do you think there’s a lot more of public call for political music?

Mattie: I’m sure there will be. We’ve been screaming for years about things that are important to us but I guess we haven’t really had any real political disasters with the magnitude of the EU referendum or Trump within our lifetimes. There’s been a lot of controversy obviously with people in charge but the transparent nature of everything now, and the fact that politicians can no longer hide behind their faults with fake personas, has got us to a point where we have a fascist dictator in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world. And I don’t, for a second, think that that’s not gonna influence people and influence their art. And it’s kind of great in a way, but at the same time there’s plenty of stuff that’s been going on for years. But if it takes something like that to provoke a movement, then fair enough. So I think it will influence. I think we have to see a rebellion against this because it’s going to completely split opinion in America and it’s gonna make it very difficult for a lot of minorities. The minorities are bigger than they have ever been so, in itself, that conflict could be very scary.

 

 

 

Live Review: VANT @ Fibbers, York – 21.11.2016

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Review by Chazz Cheron

 

With only a handful of singles and one EP to their name, Noisy indie-rockers VANT have been carving, for themselves, an extremely loyal fan base – including BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac. Current single, PEACE & LOVE, is the fifth in a row that she has named her ‘Hottest Record in the World’ and to receive repeated commercial airplay. Embarking on a solo tour of the UK, after a support slot on You Me At Six’s academy tour last month, Mattie Vant and his eponymously-named band of indie-hippies are out to astonish.

Opening support act, and local lads, Part Time Miserables impress with a solid set of schizophrenic-sounding noise rock songs, but fail to convey any charisma in their performance – even through a cover of The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog. That’s okay though, because Californian exports PARTYBABY have got charisma in spades. Their mission is clear. So clear in fact that is literally in their name – to party. Frontman Jamie Schefman showboats his way through an often-cringey set of pop rock tracks. Holding his guitar aloft and theatrically falling to his knees, he delivers each nasal chorus with an enthusiasm that cannot be matched by many – and the audience absolutely lap it up.

If the crowd are in any way disheartened by the near-torrential rain they’ve faced to be there, they do not show it a bit, whooping and hollering as VANT take to the stage. Any fears that the headliners may struggle to contend with the showmanship of their support are immediately swayed as they rip through their first song. What the audience lack in numbers, they more than make up for in spirit, singing VANT’s lyrics back to them amidst wall to wall moshing and crowdsurfing. They are given no room to breathe at all between songs, with VANT opting instead to riff their way through their five opening tracks with no breaks. The normal catchy indie-rock tracks conclude now in 30 second feedback-laced freak-out sessions. Frontman Mattie Vant preaches love and acceptance between songs, insisting that the audience stand together as a collective against the injustices of our time (namely the EU referendum results and recent presidential election).

The highlights of the show, however, come far too late in the set – the majority of the performance soon becoming forgettable. Not boring, but nothing entirely memorable. It is not until eleven songs in that they begin to play their big hits. And this is where the set begins to really shine. Parasite and Parking Lot both drive the crowd into a frenzy – individuals sit on their friends’ shoulders and gatherings of friendly strangers with their arms around each other jump around manically as if all their worries had been taken away.

The opening chords of fan favourite Fly-By Alien ring out briefly. An eruption of excitement from the fans is followed by a disappointing silence as they realised Mattie has snapped a string. The discontent is soon swayed as the guitar tech brings on a replacement guitar and now the crowd are expecting it. As Vant repeats the same hook, through a fresh guitar, the crowd scream the lyrics at him as if they are part of the performance now.

After a very transparent false ending and encore, the band departs with a punchy cover of M.I.A’s Paper Planes. The crowd are left to endure the rains outside once more, but most feel that this has definitely been worth it.

Eskimo Callboy Review: The Key Club, 14th November

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Metalcore party-starters Eskimo Callboy are in the middle of a European tour and are about to play at Key Club in Leeds for the first time after a summer spent playing various Impericon Festivals. Their third studio album Crystals was released in 2015 and made it to 6th on the German chart and represented a step up from their second album We Are The Mess.

Joining them on the UK leg of the tour are five-piece metal band Her Name In Blood from Tokyo whose quick paced, half hour set to a somewhat-sparse crowd receives a rather lukewarm response. Managing to get a 3-person circle pit going for their final song, they end their set with relatively popular song LAST DAY and announce they will be by their merch table should anyone want to meet them.

Also supporting them are Palisades. The Electronicore band from New Jersey attract a slightly larger crowd, possibly due to their musical similarity to the headliners. ‘Dabbing’ their way through their half-hour set, they play their cover of House of Wolves by the legendary My Chemical Romance. The group demand the attention of everyone in the venue and then follow it up by getting political and saying “those of you who were following the election will know we just elected a f****** dumbass. We don’t stand for any racism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia so if you agree with any of those things, walk on right out of here” before playing new song Aggression.

Announcing their arrival onstage with EDM that will make you wonder if you’ve accidentally stumbled upon Tomorrowland, Eskimo Callboy quickly let the half-capacity crowd know how the night is going to go with a fancy display of smoke, strobe lights and more smoke. Opening with Crystals, vocalists Sebastian “Sushi” Biesler and Kevin Ratajczak scream for the crowd to “put your mother-f****** hands in the sky” and without hesitation everyone in the room raises their arms and starts jumping.

With a setlist containing mostly songs from the new album, it’s clear to see that they are happy to leave the majority of their back catalogue in the past however the appearance of singles We Are The Mess and Party At The Horror House highlights that they still have some classics to play and the crowd will sing every word back to the six-piece from Germany.

Performing to a backing track means that the edm-style breakdowns can be perfectly recreated live however it does mean that sometimes it is hard to differentiate between Biesler’s live vocals and what has been pre-recorded.

Anyone that’s ever been to a gig in Leeds will know to expect the crowd to start chanting “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!” at some point during the bands set and Ratajczak said that it reminded him of the terrace chants at a football match and started an indistinguishable shout. Then saying that “the next song goes out to the most important people in here and that’s you,” the band played what they said would be the last song tonight Walking On Thin Ice before coming back for an encore.

Starting the encore with Baby (T.U.M.H) which is a cover of popular 90s group NSYNC’s Tearin’ Up My Heart, they follow it up with a cover of Skrillex’s 2011 remix of Cinema before pausing for the customary photo with the crowd and ending the energetic night with Is Anyone Up? from 2012 album Bury Me In Vegas.

 

Reviewed by Ruby Price

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